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School children shape the new normal

The world has been turned upside down in 2020. And so has the world of work.

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Certain jobs will never return. Those that do return will be different. Tectonic shifts are changing the way work and how business gets done. There will be less focus on roles and more on the skills needed to drive and sustain competitive advantage.

"There is a strong connection between entrepreneurial thinking and science, technology, engineering, arts and math.”

While these shifts in the workforce were underway before the crisis, they’ve been accelerated by the pandemic and they’re now in the headlines.

Ideal workers in the old normal were punctual, followed directions, tolerated long hours of tedious work and had the ability to read, write and understand arithmetic. That world has changed forever. Ideal workers in the new normal will be creative, collaborative, innovative and able to problem solve. They will need to be lifelong learners - out of necessity rather than desire.

Learning by doing

Long before the pandemic hit, there was an increased focus on learning about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) in primary and secondary schools. But it’s taught in much the same way children are taught multiplication - through repetition and memorisation. What’s missing is the learning by doing.

There is a strong connection between entrepreneurial thinking and STEAM. Both result in individuals who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration and work through the creative process. Every aspect of STEAM has a connection with entrepreneurship. The most important is that entrepreneurship provides the opportunity to learn by doing.

Yet in a 21st century world experiencing exponential change, we are doubling down on 19th century legacy models of education. We are not teaching entrepreneurial skills. And, where we are, we are teaching “about” entrepreneurship, rather than teaching by “doing” entrepreneurship. Like a cake without frosting, STEAM is good, but it can be better. Entrepreneurship is the frosting on the cake. It makes the amazing investment in STEAM even better.

Schools are teeming with a natural resource that can be tapped into for insights. This has been documented via The Spaghetti Marshmallow Challenge. The team-based activity was created for beginners in design thinking to practice prototyping in testing.

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Everyone is born with creativity and curiosity (just ask any parent who has spent time at home with their school aged children during this pandemic!). Unfortunately, much of it is systemically unlearned as we grow older.

As our nation grapples with the daunting economic challenges faced during and post the pandemic, we must commit to helping to create conditions for young people to grow and contribute. We all have a role to play in building a better future.

Australia’s school children also deserve an opportunity to play their part as well.

Jim Schuman is co-founder of First Pitch

The First Pitch for Kids 2020 competition was created to inspire and educate school children across Australia about entrepreneurship. It is a free and open competition for children across Australia between the ages of 8 - 13. The competition provides a platform for children to practice and showcase their STEAM and entrepreneurial learnings. It is Australia's first ever national entrepreneurship pitch competition. To learn more click here.

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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